Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is our weekly look at the best and worst matchups from around the NFL and how they might affect lineup decisions for your Fantasy Football team. We are not in the business of stating the obvious, so you won't be reading here why you need to start Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson or any other top-tier players.
Beanie Wells got off to a slow start in his rookie season. He was limited by an ankle injury in training camp and didn't get double digits in carries until Week 6.
Since then, Wells has become a solid Fantasy option, and he heads into his matchup with St. Louis this week as one of the hottest running backs in the league. Wells is our Start of the Week against the Rams.
He has four games with double digits in Fantasy points in his past six games, and last week he ran over Detroit with 17 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown. It was the first of what should be many 100-yard games in his career.
Wells already faced the Rams in Week 11 at St. Louis and had 14 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown. He is one of 13 running backs to reach double digits in Fantasy points against the Rams, and St. Louis has allowed 20 touchdowns (17 rushing and three receiving) to opposing running backs.
Wells continues to share playing time with Tim Hightower, but Wells is proving to be the better runner with Hightower the better receiver. Wells has 67 carries for 311 yards and three touchdowns in his past five games, and Hightower has only 39 carries for 222 yards and two touchdowns over that span.
This week, both running backs should do well against the Rams since Hightower had 14 carries for 110 yards in the previous meeting. But Wells is the running back to start if you own both Cardinals.
After a slow start, Wells is rolling now. And he won't let you down with a great matchup this week.
Sit of the Week
Rogers, if you recall, was drafted No. 2 overall in the 2003 NFL Draft by the Lions and turned into a huge bust. While we don't agree that Johnson should be mentioned in the same breath as Rogers, he has become a bust for Fantasy owners this year. He's our Sit of the Week at San Francisco.
We certainly don't put all of the blame on Johnson, who has battled a knee injury and dealt with the growing pains of a rookie quarterback, but his stats haven't matched his draft position, which was as a Top 5 Fantasy wide receiver coming into the year. He only has four games with double digits in Fantasy points and four touchdowns.
And things have only gotten worse for Johnson recently because Matthew Stafford (shoulder, knee), the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, who has missed the past two games, was put on injured reserve Thursday. Johnson had to deal with Daunte Culpepper for two games, and Drew Stanton will now start at the 49ers.
San Francisco has struggled in pass defense this year and is ranked No. 28, but the 49ers have only allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers. Only two wide receivers have reached double digits in Fantasy points against the 49ers in the past seven games, and Roddy White in Week 5 is the only wide receiver to score in San Francisco this year.
Johnson also has just one touchdown outdoors this season in Week 13 at Cincinnati, but that was Stafford's last game this year. With Stanton, Johnson could struggle.
We expect Johnson to rebound next year and play like a No. 1 Fantasy option. The outlook for Johnson playing with Stafford should be outstanding as they develop a rapport.
But this week, with Johnson playing at San Francisco and with Stanton as the starter, you might be better off keeping Johnson reserved.
|Starts that made us look good|
|Player||Stats||Fantasy Points||Week 15 Start %|
|Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT||503 pass yards, 3 TDs||38||49%|
|DeSean Jackson, WR, PHI||140 rec. yards, TD||20||83%|
|Beanie Wells, RB, ARI||110 rush yards, TD, 13 rec. yards||18||55%|
|Sits that made us look good|
|Alex Smith, QB, SF||177 pass yards, TD, 3 INT||7||22%|
|Matt Forte, RB, CHI||69 rush yards, fumble||4||59%|
|Roddy White, WR, ATL*||33 rec. yards||3||64%|
|Starts that made us look bad|
|Jason Campbell, QB, WAS||192 pass yards, TD, 2 INT, 36 rush yards||12||18%|
|Knowshon Moreno, RB, DEN||42 rush yards, 39 rec. yards||7||82%|
|Terrell Owens, WR, BUF||20 rec. yards||2||59%|
|Sits that made us look bad|
|Jerome Harrison, RB, CLE||286 rush yards, 3 TDs, 12 rec. yards||47||11%|
|Eli Manning, QB, NYG||268 pass yards, 3 TDs||28||30%|
|Steve Smith, WR, CAR||157 rec. yards, TD||21||56%|
|Our favorite Week 15 sleeper pick was ... Joe Flacco, who had 234 pass yards and 4 TDs, which was good for 33 Fantasy points.|
|* Week 15 Sit of the Week|
Brett Favre (at CHI): If you're an owner who drafted Favre as a backup option to Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers or Aaron Rodgers then keep Favre in that role this week. But for those of you who have gone with Favre up to this point in the season then keep him active. We all know about Favre's struggles in December, and there is definite cause for concern about starting him this week based on his poor performance against Carolina in Week 15. But this matchup is still a great one since the Bears have allowed seven quarterbacks to score multiple touchdowns this year, including Favre in Week 12 when he had 392 yards and three touchdowns. Chicago also just lost key pass rusher Adewale Ogunleye (leg) for the rest of the season, and Joe Flacco threw four touchdowns against the Bears last week. I'll take my chances with Favre on Monday night coming off that bad game -- it could be the last Monday night game of his career -- and we know how he rises to the occasion when the spotlight is on him.
Alex Smith (vs. DET): Throw out Smith's bad game at Philadelphia last week because that was to be expected. The Eagles forced Smith into three interceptions, and that was only his second game with fewer than double digits in Fantasy points since taking over the starting job in Week 8. Smith should rebound well against the Lions, and he has passed for multiple touchdowns in three of his four home starts. Detroit is also last in the NFL in pass defense, and the Lions have allowed multiple touchdown passes in three of their past five games. Even though Frank Gore should run well in this matchup, Smith has still attempted an average of 38 passes in his past five games. That means he should come out firing against this mediocre pass defense.
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. BAL): We said to start Roethlisberger last week against the Packers, and if you listened to us you danced into the playoffs with his 503 passing yards and three touchdowns. While he's not going to duplicate that performance, he should remain active in all lineups this week. The Ravens are No. 6 in pass defense, but they just lost another cornerback with rookie Lardarius Webb (knee) out for the season. And with Ed Reed (groin) out the past three games, that should help Big Ben if Reed is still limited. Roethlisberger missed the first game against Baltimore in Week 12 with a concussion, but he should do well in the rematch. Remember, the Steelers are fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive and need to beat the Ravens for that to happen. That motivation, along with a favorable matchup and that he's coming off a career-high performance, should give you reason enough to keep Big Ben in your lineup.
Vince Young (vs. SD): Young has been on a tremendous run the past four games and has three games with at least 20 Fantasy points over that span. The game where he didn't reach that mark was Week 14 against St. Louis, but he was on his way with 15 points before hurting his hamstring. Young has put the Titans in playoff contention following their 0-6 start. He's 7-1 as a starter, and he's looking for a strong finish against the Chargers. San Diego has been vulnerable in pass defense this year, and the Chargers have allowed the past three opposing quarterbacks (Brady Quinn, Tony Romo and Carson Palmer) to reach at least 20 Fantasy points. Young has a chance to make it four in a row with the way he's playing over the past month.
Donovan McNabb (vs. DEN): This isn't a great matchup for McNabb since Denver is No. 2 in pass defense and has only allowed three quarterbacks (Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning) to throw for multiple touchdowns. But McNabb has been too good this year to bench in a matchup at home where the Eagles are looking to hold onto their NFC East lead while also possibly catch Minnesota for the No. 2 seed. McNabb has at least 16 Fantasy points in his past six games despite losing some production to Michael Vick, but he has 43 Fantasy points in his past two games against the Giants and San Francisco. McNabb gets Brian Westbrook back this week, and he has been relying on DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek, which he will do again in this matchup.
Sleeper alert: Eli Manning (vs. CAR): There's a risk involved with Manning this week. The Panthers have been stellar against opposing quarterbacks all season. They have held Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Brett Favre to one touchdown or less with an interception in each game. Kurt Warner also had two touchdowns and five interceptions against Carolina in Week 8. But Manning is playing at an unbelievable level. He has 13 touchdowns and three interceptions in his past six games with five games with at least 19 Fantasy points over that span. He's averaging 25 Fantasy points in his past four home games against San Diego, Atlanta, Dallas and Philadelphia, so Manning could be worth the risk. Don't bench a standout quarterback to start Manning this week, but don't be surprised if he has a good game despite the tough matchup. Some other sleepers to consider this week include Carson Palmer (vs. KC), Joe Flacco (at PIT) and Chad Henne (vs. HOU).
|Top Flex Players for Week 16|
|1. Chris Johnson, RB, TEN||vs SD||27|
|2. Andre Johnson, WR, HOU||at MIA||23|
|3. Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN||at CHI||19|
|4. Frank Gore, RB, SF||vs DET||18|
|5. Cedric Benson, RB, CIN||vs KC||18|
|6. Jerome Harrison, RB, CLE||vs OAK||18|
|7. Ray Rice, RB, BAL||at PIT||18|
|8. Steven Jackson, RB, STL||at ARI||16|
|9. DeSean Jackson, WR, PHI||vs DEN||16|
|10. Jamaal Charles, RB, KC||at CIN||16|
|11. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, JAC||at NE||15|
|12. Miles Austin, WR, DAL||at WAS||15|
|13. Beanie Wells, RB, ARI||vs STL||15|
|14. Ryan Grant, RB, GB||vs SEA||14|
|15. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, SD||at TEN||14|
|16. Santonio Holmes, WR, PIT||vs BAL||14|
|17. Thomas Jones, RB, NYJ||at IND||14|
|18. Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR||at NYG||14|
|19. Derrick Mason, WR, BAL||at PIT||14|
|20. Greg Jennings, WR, GB||vs SEA||14|
|21. Steve Smith, WR, CAR||at NYG||14|
|22. Vincent Jackson, WR, SD||at TEN||14|
|23. Ricky Williams, RB, MIA||vs HOU||13|
|24. Roy E. Williams, WR, DAL||at WAS||13|
|25. Anquan Boldin, WR, ARI||vs STL||13|
|26. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARI||vs STL||13|
|27. Sidney Rice, WR, MIN||at CHI||13|
|28. Tony Gonzalez, TE, ATL||vs BUF||13|
|29. Hines Ward, WR, PIT||vs BAL||13|
|30. Vernon Davis, TE, SF||vs DET||13|
|31. Brandon Marshall, WR, DEN||at PHI||13|
|32. Jason Snelling, FB, ATL||vs BUF||12|
|33. Fred Davis, TE, WAS||vs DAL||12|
|34. Dallas Clark, TE, IND||vs NYJ||12|
|35. Randy Moss, WR, NE||vs JAC||12|
|36. Kevin Walter, WR, HOU||at MIA||12|
|37. Mike Sims-Walker, WR, JAC||at NE||12|
|38. Terrell Owens, WR, BUF||at ATL||12|
|39. Marion Barber, RB, DAL||at WAS||12|
|40. Joseph Addai, RB, IND||vs NYJ||12|
|41. Donald Driver, WR, GB||vs SEA||12|
|42. Jermichael Finley, TE, GB||vs SEA||12|
|43. Laurence Maroney, RB, NE||vs JAC||11|
|44. Brandon Jacobs, RB, NYG||vs CAR||11|
|45. Michael Crabtree, WR, SF||vs DET||11|
|46. Robert Meachem, WR, NO||vs TB||11|
|47. Kevin Boss, TE, NYG||vs CAR||11|
|48. Chad Ochocinco, WR, CIN||vs KC||11|
|49. Austin Collie, WR, IND||vs NYJ||11|
|50. Chris Chambers, WR, KC||at CIN||11|
|51. Michael Bush, RB, OAK||at CLE||10|
|52. Fred Taylor, RB, NE||vs JAC||10|
|53. Mike Bell, RB, NO||vs TB||10|
|54. Reggie Bush, RB, NO||vs TB||10|
|55. Bo Scaife, TE, TEN||vs SD||10|
|56. Greg Camarillo, WR, MIA||vs HOU||10|
|57. Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, MIN||at CHI||10|
|58. Deion Branch, WR, SEA||at GB||10|
|59. Mario Manningham, WR, NYG||vs CAR||10|
|60. Pierre Thomas, RB, NO||vs TB||9|
|61. Matt Forte, RB, CHI||vs MIN||9|
|62. Fred Jackson, RB, BUF||at ATL||9|
|63. Darren McFadden, RB, OAK||at CLE||9|
|64. Maurice Morris, RB, DET||at SF||9|
|65. Tim Hightower, RB, ARI||vs STL||9|
|66. Marshawn Lynch, RB, BUF||at ATL||9|
|67. Wes Welker, WR, NE||vs JAC||9|
|68. Dennis Northcutt, WR, DET||at SF||9|
|69. Earl Bennett, WR, CHI||vs MIN||9|
|70. Benjamin Watson, TE, NE||vs JAC||9|
|71. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, PIT||vs BAL||8|
|72. Antonio Bryant, WR, TB||at NO||8|
|73. Marques Colston, WR, NO||vs TB||8|
|74. LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI||vs DEN||7|
|75. Justin Forsett, RB, SEA||at GB||7|
|76. Steve Smith, WR, NYG||vs CAR||7|
|77. Jerricho Cotchery, WR, NYJ||at IND||7|
|78. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, NYG||vs CAR||7|
|79. Brian Westbrook, RB, PHI||vs DEN||7|
|80. Larry Johnson, RB, CIN||vs KC||7|
|81. Demetrius Williams, WR, BAL||at PIT||7|
|82. Knowshon Moreno, RB, DEN||at PHI||7|
|83. Kellen Winslow, TE, TB||at NO||7|
|84. Davone Bess, WR, MIA||vs HOU||7|
|85. Legedu Naanee, WR, SD||at TEN||7|
|86. Dwayne Bowe, WR, KC||at CIN||7|
|87. Roddy White, WR, ATL||vs BUF||7|
|88. Jerious Norwood, RB, ATL||vs BUF||7|
|89. Reggie Wayne, WR, IND||vs NYJ||7|
|90. Malcolm Kelly, WR, WAS||vs DAL||7|
|91. Antonio Gates, TE, SD||at TEN||6|
|92. Derrick Ward, RB, TB||at NO||6|
|93. Kenny Britt, WR, TEN||vs SD||6|
|94. Felix Jones, RB, DAL||at WAS||6|
|95. Chester Taylor, RB, MIN||at CHI||6|
|96. Cadillac Williams, RB, TB||at NO||6|
|97. Leonard Weaver, FB, PHI||vs DEN||6|
|98. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, SEA||at GB||6|
|99. Heath Miller, TE, PIT||vs BAL||6|
|100. Quinton Ganther, RB, WAS||vs DAL||5|
|101. Devin Hester, WR, CHI||vs MIN||5|
|102. Chansi Stuckey, WR, CLE||vs OAK||5|
|103. Percy Harvin, WR, MIN||at CHI||5|
|104. Calvin Johnson, WR, DET||at SF||5|
|105. Jason Witten, TE, DAL||at WAS||5|
|106. Julius Jones, RB, SEA||at GB||5|
|107. John Carlson, TE, SEA||at GB||5|
|108. Lee Evans, WR, BUF||at ATL||5|
|109. Brent Celek, TE, PHI||vs DEN||5|
|110. Jeremy Shockey, TE, NO||vs TB||5|
|111. Braylon Edwards, WR, NYJ||at IND||5|
|112. Ryan Moats, RB, HOU||at MIA||4|
|113. Correll Buckhalter, RB, DEN||at PHI||4|
|114. Bernard Berrian, WR, MIN||at CHI||4|
|115. Mike Wallace, WR, PIT||vs BAL||4|
|116. J.P. Foschi, TE, CIN||vs KC||4|
|117. Darren Sproles, RB, SD||at TEN||4|
|118. Donald Brown, RB, IND||vs NYJ||4|
|119. Jeremy Maclin, WR, PHI||vs DEN||4|
|120. Hank Baskett, WR, IND||vs NYJ||4|
|121. Brian Hartline, WR, MIA||vs HOU||4|
|122. Donnie Avery, WR, STL||at ARI||4|
|123. Justin Gage, WR, TEN||vs SD||4|
|124. Torry Holt, WR, JAC||at NE||4|
|125. Johnny Knox, WR, CHI||vs MIN||4|
|126. Chaz Schilens, WR, OAK||at CLE||4|
|127. Josh Morgan, WR, SF||vs DET||4|
|128. Joel Dreessen, TE, HOU||at MIA||3|
|129. Malcom Floyd, WR, SD||at TEN||3|
|130. Tony Scheffler, TE, DEN||at PHI||3|
|131. Devin Aromashodu, WR, CHI||vs MIN||3|
|132. Muhsin Muhammad, WR, CAR||at NYG||3|
|133. Marcedes Lewis, TE, JAC||at NE||3|
|134. Anthony Fasano, TE, MIA||vs HOU||3|
|135. Greg Olsen, TE, CHI||vs MIN||3|
|136. Maurice Stovall, WR, TB||at NO||3|
|137. Steve Breaston, WR, ARI||vs STL||3|
|138. Mike Goodson, RB, CAR||at NYG||3|
|139. Todd Heap, TE, BAL||at PIT||3|
|140. Nate Washington, WR, TEN||vs SD||3|
|141. Lance Long, WR, KC||at CIN||3|
|142. Arian Foster, RB, HOU||at MIA||3|
|143. Devin Thomas, WR, WAS||vs DAL||3|
|144. James Jones, WR, GB||vs SEA||3|
|145. Santana Moss, WR, WAS||vs DAL||3|
|146. Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, CLE||vs OAK||3|
|147. Will Heller, TE, DET||at SF||3|
|148. Deon Butler, WR, SEA||at GB||3|
|149. David Anderson, WR, HOU||at MIA||3|
|150. Kahlil Bell, RB, CHI||vs MIN||2|
|151. Josh Reed, WR, BUF||at ATL||2|
|152. Leonard Pope, TE, KC||at CIN||2|
|153. Danny Amendola, WR, STL||at ARI||2|
|154. Josh Cribbs, WR, CLE||vs OAK||2|
|155. Antwaan Randle El, WR, WAS||vs DAL||2|
|156. Quan Cosby, WR, CIN||vs KC||2|
|157. Brandon Stokley, WR, DEN||at PHI||2|
|158. Sean Ryan, TE, KC||at CIN||2|
|159. Chris Jennings, RB, CLE||vs OAK||2|
|160. Ben Patrick, TE, ARI||vs STL||2|
|161. Devery Henderson, WR, NO||vs TB||2|
|162. Jordy Nelson, WR, GB||vs SEA||2|
|163. Patrick Crayton, WR, DAL||at WAS||2|
|164. Shonn Greene, RB, NYJ||at IND||2|
|165. Kelley Washington, WR, BAL||at PIT||2|
|166. Louis Murphy, WR, OAK||at CLE||2|
|167. Willis McGahee, RB, BAL||at PIT||2|
|168. Evan Moore, TE, CLE||vs OAK||2|
|169. Domenik Hixon, WR, NYG||vs CAR||2|
|170. Julian Edelman, WR, NE||vs JAC||2|
|171. Tony Stewart, TE, OAK||at CLE||2|
|172. Ruvell Martin, WR, STL||at ARI||2|
|173. Eddie Royal, WR, DEN||at PHI||2|
|174. Rashad Jennings, RB, JAC||at NE||1|
|175. Willie Parker, RB, PIT||vs BAL||1|
|176. Le'Ron McClain, FB, BAL||at PIT||1|
|177. Jerome Felton, FB, DET||at SF||1|
|178. Kenneth Darby, RB, STL||at ARI||1|
|179. Johnnie Lee Higgins, WR, OAK||at CLE||1|
|180. LenDale White, RB, TEN||vs SD||1|
|181. Michael Clayton, WR, TB||at NO||1|
|182. Jason Hill, WR, SF||vs DET||1|
|183. Dustin Keller, TE, NYJ||at IND||1|
|184. Tom Santi, TE, IND||vs NYJ||1|
|185. Randy McMichael, TE, STL||at ARI||1|
|186. Gary Barnidge, TE, CAR||at NYG||1|
|187. Michael Jenkins, WR, ATL||vs BUF||1|
|188. Ted Ginn Jr., WR, MIA||vs HOU||1|
|189. Alge Crumpler, TE, TEN||vs SD||1|
|190. Joey Haynos, TE, MIA||vs HOU||1|
|191. Zach Miller, TE, JAC||at NE||1|
|192. Early Doucet, WR, ARI||vs STL||1|
|193. Rock Cartwright, RB, WAS||vs DAL||1|
|194. Brad Smith, WR, NYJ||at IND||1|
|195. Brandon Jackson, RB, GB||vs SEA||1|
|196. Derrick Williams, WR, DET||at SF||1|
|197. Jason Avant, WR, PHI||vs DEN||1|
|198. Aaron Brown, RB, DET||at SF||1|
|199. Justin Griffith, FB, SEA||at GB||1|
|200. Brian Leonard, RB, CIN||vs KC||1|
David Garrard (at NE): I wouldn't be surprised if Garrard played well this week. The Patriots secondary isn't playing well, and New England can't generate a pass rush. But you have to stick with the trends with Garrard, who has just one good game on the road in six tries, which was Week 10 at the Jets. He has no touchdown passes in five of six road games this year and has one touchdown and two interceptions away from Jacksonville. The Jaguars are fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive, which should give Garrard plenty of motivation, but this isn't the time to trust him based on his road woes.
Matt Hasselbeck (at GB): While we're on the topic of quarterbacks who struggle on the road, we might as well talk about Hasselbeck. Like Garrard, Hasselbeck only has one good game on the road in six tries, which was Week 8 at Dallas. He has four touchdowns and four interceptions on the road, but he's also looked bad at home, including last week when he threw four interceptions against Tampa Bay. Hasselbeck also is without his top target in Nate Burleson (ankle), and the Packers, despite last week's debacle at Pittsburgh, still have a great secondary, which is led by Charles Woodson. Seattle doesn't have anything to play for, and Hasselbeck should not be started during the Fantasy playoffs.
Jason Campbell (vs. DAL): The Cowboys have done a great job in pass defense the past seven games with Eli Manning in Week 13 the only quarterback to throw multiple touchdowns. That includes Donovan McNabb, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees and Campbell over that span. Campbell, prior to last week's disaster against the Giants, had been playing well with three games in a row with double digits in Fantasy points. But he only passed for 256 yards with no touchdowns and an interception in Week 11 at Dallas and has an interception in three of four career meetings. His offensive line will struggle to stop the Cowboys' pass rush, which is led by standout linebacker DeMarcus Ware.
Jay Cutler (vs. MIN): Last week reached a new low for Cutler with 94 passing yards and three interceptions, which gave him minus-1 Fantasy points. He will rebound this week and has played well at home, but you can't trust him with his propensity for interceptions (25 and counting). The Vikings got pushed around at Carolina last week, which should provide Jared Allen and Co. plenty of motivation, and they held Cutler to 147 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in Week 12. Cutler has only passed for more than 200 yards once in his past five games and he has five touchdowns and eight interceptions over that span. Week 17 at Detroit can't get here fast enough for Cutler and the Bears.
Matt Ryan (vs. BUF): If this was the middle of the season and Ryan was 100 percent healthy we would suggest using him as a sleeper. The Bills are banged up on defense and just lost standout safety Jairus Byrd (hernia), who leads the NFL with nine interceptions, for the season. But Ryan is still dealing with this toe problem, and he struggled last week at the Jets with 152 passing yards and one touchdown. The Bills will miss Byrd, but they are still No. 3 in pass defense and lead the NFL with 26 interceptions. Most likely, the Falcons will run all over Buffalo like everyone else does and try to make sure Ryan doesn't get hurt again.
Bust alert: Kyle Orton (at PHI): Orton has quietly played well the past two weeks at Indianapolis and against Oakland. He has 40 Fantasy points over that span and has finished each week ranked as a No. 1 quarterback. But that mini-streak should end here since the Eagles should be able to frustrate Orton. In Philadelphia's last four home games against the Giants, Dallas, Washington and San Francisco, only Jason Campbell passed for multiple touchdowns. The Eagles have allowed five touchdowns with eight interceptions over that span. Orton faced the Eagles last year with the Bears and passed for 199 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions with two fumbles. And in Orton's past two road games at Kansas City and Indianapolis he has two interceptions and two fumbles.
Jerome Harrison (vs. OAK): We've been touting Harrison all week after he ran for 286 yards and three touchdowns at Kansas City, and you have to hope he has some juice left in his legs for another favorable matchup against the Raiders. Oakland is No. 28 in run defense and has allowed 17 running backs to reach double digits in Fantasy points this season. The key for Harrison is his touches. Four times this season he's had at least 10 carries, and each time he's had at least 80 total yards with five touchdowns. There's still the chance Eric Mangini could give increased carries to Chris Jennings and Josh Cribbs, and Derek Anderson is now starting at quarterback for the injured Brady Quinn (foot), but Harrison showed last week he's worth the risk.
Brandon Jacobs (vs. CAR): Jacobs continues to be a risky starting option for Fantasy owners because he hasn't had 20 carries in a game since Week 8 at Philadelphia and hasn't run for 100 yards this year. Still, he's always a threat to score and has three rushing touchdowns in his past three home games. He also ran over the Panthers last year with 24 carries for 87 yards and three touchdowns. Jacobs is losing production to Ahmad Bradshaw -- who is worth using this week as a sleeper -- but Carolina has struggled in run defense all season. The Panthers are No. 26 in run defense, and they have allowed 17 running backs to reach double digits in Fantasy points, including one in every game this season.
Ryan Grant (vs. SEA): Grant continues to be underrated by Fantasy owners, but he's a great starting option this week. He has three touchdowns in his past two games and should enjoy this matchup against the Seahawks after dealing with Pittsburgh's tough run defense last week. Grant has reached double digits in Fantasy points in four of his seven home games this season, and the Seahawks appear to have given up after getting blown out by Tampa Bay at home. Seattle has also allowed a running back to reach double digits in Fantasy points in three of its past four games, including two in a row against Houston and the Bucs. In that game against Tampa Bay, Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward both had double digits in Fantasy points.
Pierre Thomas (vs. TB): Thomas has been one of the most frustrating running backs this season because he has the ability to be a No. 1 Fantasy option, but he continues to lose production to Reggie Bush and Mike Bell. That could happen again this week, but Bush is dealing with a hamstring injury and could be limited. Thomas played well against Tampa Bay in Week 11 with 11 carries for 92 yards and three catches for 11 yards. He has reached double digits in Fantasy points in three of his past four home games, and the Bucs have allowed 15 running backs to reach double digits in Fantasy points this year. If Bush plays then Thomas' value will take a hit, but look for Thomas to still run well in this game. And based on his role as a goal-line option, you can consider Bell a sleeper this week also.
Jonathan Stewart (at NYG): Stewart showed last week that he can do well as a featured back. He took over against Minnesota when DeAngelo Williams left with an ankle injury and had 25 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 14 yards and a touchdown. It was the fourth time this season Stewart had at least 17 carries, and he has six touchdowns and three 100-yards games when that happens. If Williams plays this week then Stewart's value will decline, but we like Stewart as a starting Fantasy option if Williams is out. The Giants are among the league leaders with 18 rushing touchdowns allowed, including five in their past five games, so Stewart should have a good chance to score.
Sleeper alert: Jason Snelling (vs. BUF): The Falcons have been a headache for Fantasy owners since Michael Turner first injured his ankle in Week 10. But with Turner injured again last week at the Jets and likely out for this game it should allow Snelling to become a must-start option. The Bills are last in the NFL in run defense at 166 yards per game, and the Bills have allowed a running back to gain 100 total yards or score a touchdown in every game this year. If Turner plays in this game then you should avoid Snelling as well as Turner and Jerious Norwood. But if the Falcons do the right thing this week and keep Turner out then Snelling should be a solid starting option against this lowly Buffalo run defense. Some other sleepers to consider this week include Fred Jackson (at ATL), Laurence Maroney (vs. JAC), Michael Bush (at CLE) and Larry Johnson (vs. KC).
Matt Forte (vs. MIN): Week 17 can't get here fast enough for Forte since he will close the season with a matchup at Detroit. That will be a great time to use him, but he will likely struggle against the Vikings this week. Minnesota, despite getting run over by Carolina last week, is still No. 4 in run defense with only four rushing touchdowns allowed, and the Vikings should rebound from losing to the Panthers. Forte struggled last week at Baltimore with 20 carries for 69 yards and a lost fumble. He was held to eight carries for 27 yards and four catches for 34 yards in Week 12 at Minnesota, and that's about as much as you can expect from him in this matchup.
Quinton Ganther (vs. DAL): Ganther scored a touchdown last week against the Giants, which was his third touchdown in two games since being named the starter, but he didn't run well. He was limited to 10 carries for 21 yards, and the Redskins didn't have much of a chance to establish their ground game with the Giants going ahead early. Ganther also continues to share carries with Rock Cartwright and Marcus Mason, and this is a tough matchup. The Cowboys are No. 6 in run defense and have not allowed a 100-yard rusher all season. Dallas has only given up three rushing touchdowns in the past eight games. Ganther still has value as the starter in Washington, but view him as a No. 3 Fantasy running back in this matchup.
Ryan Moats (at MIA): Let's include Arian Foster and Chris Brown in this conversation and just say to avoid all Texans running backs. One of them might do well in this matchup, but it's a risk to use any of them based on what happened last week at St. Louis. Brown started but didn't do anything, Moats led the team in carries for minimal yards and Foster, who had the chance to help Fantasy owners as a sleeper against the Rams, fumbled in the first quarter and went to the bench. The Dolphins run defense has been suspect since defensive tackle Jason Ferguson was lost for the season with a knee injury in Week 11, but you can't rely on the Texans to give any of their running backs enough touches to make them worth using at this point in the season.
Brian Westbrook (vs. DEN): The Eagles expect Westbrook to return this week after missing seven of the past eight games with a concussion, including five in a row. He could play well in his comeback, especially against a weak Denver run defense, but Westbrook will likely share playing time with LeSean McCoy and Leonard Weaver. The Eagles aren't going to rush Westbrook into action since the playoffs are in two weeks, and there's always the chance he could be ruled inactive. If you reached the playoffs with Westbrook on your bench then you probably don't need him this week. Save yourself the headache of waiting to see if Westbrook is active for this 4:15 p.m. EST kickoff and keep Westbrook reserved in all formats.
Justin Forsett (at GB): Julius Jones injured his ribs Sunday against Tampa Bay, which could allow Forsett to get more touches, but he has a tough matchup with the Packers. Green bay is No. 2 in run defense and has allowed just four rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs, including two in Lambeau Field to Adrian Peterson in Week 8 and Willis McGahee in Week 13. With Jones healthy, Forsett can't play at the level he's capable of, which we saw the two games he started against Minnesota in Week 11 and St. Louis in Week 12 when he had 39 Fantasy points over that span. Since then, Forsett has 20 Fantasy points in three games and should be considered a risky starter at Green Bay.
Bust alert: Knowshon Moreno (at PHI): Moreno has been impressive this season with seven games of at least 75 rushing yards, six touchdowns and four games with double digits in Fantasy points. But he might have hit a rookie wall the past two weeks and could be a questionable starter at the Eagles. In his past two games, Moreno had 23 carries for 63 yards at the Colts and 19 carries for 42 yards against Oakland. That's 2.5 yards per carry, and he could be showing signs of fatigue since he's had at least 18 carries in five of his past six games. The Eagles are No. 10 in run defense but have struggled the past two weeks against Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Frank Gore with all three reaching double digits in Fantasy points. Moreno could bounce back in this matchup, but you might consider benching him if you have a better alternative on your roster.
Santonio Holmes (vs. BAL): Holmes loves facing the Ravens, and it doesn't even matter who his quarterback is because he still plays well. In Week 12 it was Dennis Dixon playing for the injured Ben Roethlisberger at Baltimore, and Holmes had six catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. It was his sixth touchdown in his past five games against the Ravens, and he's scored in each of those meetings. Holmes also has at least seven Fantasy points in his past seven games, and the Ravens are dealing with plenty of injuries in their secondary. Hines Ward is also a great starting option in this matchup.
Steve Smith (at NYG): We used to say that Smith needed Jake Delhomme to play well because the two had such a great rapport, but it appears like Smith and new quarterback Matt Moore are on the same page as well. Over the past three games with Moore, Smith has averaged 106 yards per game with two touchdowns. In the previous 11 games with Delhomme, Smith averaged 54.9 yards per game with four touchdowns. Smith had nine catches for 157 yards and a touchdown last week against Minnesota and had 83 receiving yards and a touchdown in his last road game at New England in Week 14. The Giants have allowed 14 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers this year, including six in the past five weeks.
Greg Jennings (vs. SEA): The Seahawks have allowed 20 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, which is No. 2 in the NFL behind the Titans at 21. Seattle has allowed eight touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in the past five games, so look for Jennings, Donald Driver and even James Jones to have a shot at finding the end zone. Jennings had a great game last week at Pittsburgh with five catches for 118 yards and a touchdown and has at least seven Fantasy points in his past three games and four of his past five. He has three touchdowns in two of his past three home games and should do well this week.
Steve Smith (vs. CAR): Smith has been one of the best third-year breakout wide receivers this year along with Sidney Rice, Mike Sims-Walker and Robert Meachem, and he's playing at a high level coming into this game. Smith has at least seven Fantasy points in his past six games and has become Eli Manning's go-to wide receiver. He could see even more targets this week if Hakeem Nicks (hamstring) is out. This is a tough matchup for him since Carolina leads the NFL with only three touchdowns allowed to opposing wide receivers, but Smith has been so consistent that he should be able to post another solid stat line.
Michael Crabtree (vs. DET): Crabtree had his worst game in the NFL last week at Philadelphia with four catches for 26 yards, but that was expected against a good Eagles secondary. The Lions don't have a good pass defense, and Crabtree is worth using this week. He had five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown in his last home game against Arizona in Week 14, and the Lions have allowed at least one receiver to reach double digits in Fantasy points in each of the past six games. Detroit has allowed nine touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in the past five weeks.
Sleeper alert: Mike Sims-Walker (at NE): It's a risk starting Sims-Walker because he's on the road this week, where he's struggled. He only has one touchdown on the road at the Jets in Week 10, and the most yards he had on the road was at Houston in Week 3. But the Patriots have struggled in pass defense recently, allowing 11 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in their past six games. New England has allowed 15 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, and Sims-Walker should be able to make some plays. He appears over the calf injury that bothered him for two weeks prior to Week 15 when he had six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown against Indianapolis on Thursday night. While Sims-Walker might continue his road woes this week, he could be worth the risk based on the matchup. Some other sleepers to consider this week include Kevin Walter (at MIA), Robert Meachem (vs. TB), Roddy White (vs. BUF), Antonio Bryant (at NO), Austin Collie (vs. NYJ), Demetrius Williams (at PIT) and Jerricho Cotchery (at IND).
T.J. Houshmandzadeh (at GB): Houshmandzadeh played well last week against Tampa Bay with seven catches for 73 yards, but that was his best production since Week 10 at Arizona. He hasn't scored a touchdown in his past six games, and this week he'll have to deal with Charles Woodson. The Packers are among the league leaders with 27 passing touchdowns allowed, but they are still No. 11 in pass defense and also among the league leaders with 23 interceptions.
Santana Moss (vs. DAL): Moss has really struggled this year with the Redskins spreading the ball around to Fred Davis, Devin Thomas and Antwaan Randle El. He has only scored one touchdown since Week 4, and he has combined for 31 Fantasy points in his past seven games. He already faced Dallas in Week 11 and was held to five catches for 38 yards. The Cowboys have only allowed two wide receivers to reach double digits in Fantasy points in the past eight games and did a great job in containing the New Orleans pass attack last week.
Terrell Owens (at ATL): We actually liked the matchup for Owens until it appeared like Ryan Fitzpatrick (ankle) would miss the game in favor of Brian Brohm, who could make his first NFL start. While Owens could still take advantage of the Falcons secondary, which is No. 30 in pass defense, he's now a risky starting option with an inexperienced quarterback. The same goes for Lee Evans, and Owens had just two catches for 20 yards last week against New England. In his past three games he has only seven catches for 66 yards and a touchdown, which is a combined 12 Fantasy points.
Dwayne Bowe (at CIN): Bowe returned last week from his four-game suspension against Cleveland and took a backseat to Chris Chambers. Bowe had four catches for 56 yards while Chambers had five catches for 114 yards and one touchdown. We still like Bowe better than Chambers, but it appears like Matt Cassel isn't afraid to spread the ball around. Bowe had 10 catches for 103 yards at Cincinnati last year, but this Bengals defense is much better. The Bengals are ranked No. 5 in Fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers, and only two wide receivers have reached double digits in Fantasy points against Cincinnati in the past seven games.
Roy E. Williams (at WAS): The roller coaster season for Williams went down again last week when he was held to one catch for 14 yards at New Orleans. After scoring in back-to-back games against Oakland and the Giants he has now gone consecutive games without finding the end zone against San Diego and the Saints. Williams also went without a catch against the Redskins in Week 11, and he had three catches for 36 yards in his lone meeting with Washington last year. Tony Romo continues to rely on Miles Austin as his No. 1 target, and Williams is too inconsistent to trust as a starting Fantasy option.
Bust alert: Reggie Wayne (vs. NYJ): The Colts have given no indication that they will rest players during this game, but you have to be cautious with Peyton Manning, Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark and Wayne heading into this matchup with the Jets. Even though the Colts are chasing a perfect season, the playoffs are looming, and Indianapolis has locked up everything for a Super Bowl run. The one thing the Colts want to avoid is a serious injury to one of their stars, and that could impact your Fantasy roster. Wayne also has the dreaded matchup with standout cornerback Darrelle Revis, who has shut down Andre Johnson, Marques Colston, Randy Moss, Steve Smith of Carolina, Terrell Owens (twice), Antonio Bryant and Roddy White. While it's almost impossible to bench Wayne, it's something you might have to consider based on his circumstances this week.
Jermichael Finley (vs. SEA): Finley has been playing at a high level the past three weeks with at least 70 receiving yards in each game and three touchdowns over that span against Baltimore, Chicago and Pittsburgh. Seattle has only allowed four touchdowns to opposing tight ends this year, but the Seahawks have struggled with Visanthe Shiancoe, Vernon Davis and Kellen Winslow in the past five games. Only Winslow failed to reach double digits in Fantasy points, but he had six catches for 93 yards.
Fred Davis (vs. DAL): The one reason to be concerned with Davis this week is he was held in check by the Cowboys in Week 11 with two catches for 24 yards. But since then he's been unstoppable. He has four touchdowns over the past four games and is averaging 12.5 Fantasy points per game. Dallas has only allowed five touchdowns to opposing tight ends, but David Thomas had eight catches for 77 yards against the Cowboys last week, while Antonio Gates had four catches for 44 yards and a touchdown in Week 14.
Visanthe Shiancoe (at CHI): Fantasy owners were close to putting Shiancoe on the missing person's list after his disappearing act the past three games when he was limited to seven catches for 57 yards and one touchdown against Arizona, Cincinnati and Carolina. He combined for 10 Fantasy points over that span. But his last productive game was Week 12 against Chicago when he had five catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. Last year at Chicago he had four catches for 68 yards and a touchdown, and the Bears just allowed Todd Heap to catch five passes for 56 yards and two touchdowns last week. Shiancoe should re-emerge as a No. 1 option in this matchup.
Sleeper alert: David Thomas (vs. TB): The key for Thomas is Jeremy Shockey's health. Shockey missed last week's game against Dallas with a toe injury, and Thomas filled in with eight catches for 77 yards. He could do well again if Shockey is out, and Thomas played well against Tampa Bay in Week 11 with Shockey in the game with four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. The Bucs also just allowed John Carlson to catch seven passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. We know Drew Brees likes to throw to his tight end, so Thomas has plenty of value if Shockey is out again. Some other sleepers to consider this week include Kevin Boss (vs. CAR), John Carlson (at GB), Tony Scheffler (at PHI) and Bo Scaife (vs. SD).
Jason Witten (at WAS): It's hard to bench Witten, especially after seeing the Redskins give up last week against the Giants, but Washington has done well against tight ends. The Redskins have only given up two touchdowns to tight ends this year, and only Tony Gonzalez reached double digits in Fantasy points. In Week 11, Witten was held to five catches for 43 yards against Washington, and he has just one touchdown in his past five meeting with the Redskins. Witten has nine catches for 93 yards in his past two games and has been held under 50 yards receiving nine times this year.
Greg Olsen (vs. MIN): The Vikings, despite giving up seven touchdowns to opposing tight ends, have done well recently to shut down their opponents. Minnesota hasn't allowed a touchdown against a tight end in the past five games, including Olsen in Week 12. Olsen had seven catches for 45 yards in that game, which was his best performance in his past five outings. He has combined for nine Fantasy points over that span with only one Fantasy point in his past three games. Olsen is just too risky to count on at this point in the season.
Dustin Keller (at IND): Keller has been brutal for Fantasy owners following the Jets bye in Week 9. In his past six games he has combined for 15 Fantasy points with no touchdowns. In his past three games against Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Atlanta he has five catches for 41 yards. The Colts are the No. 1 team against opposing tight ends based on Fantasy points allowed, and Bo Scaife is the only tight end to reach double figures in Fantasy points against Indianapolis this season.
Bust alert: Kellen Winslow (at NO): It's hard to bench Winslow, who is coming off a solid game last week at Seattle with six catches for 93 yards and has reached at least eight Fantasy points seven times this season. But Winslow also hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 9 against Green Bay, and the Saints held Winslow to five catches for 29 yards in Week 11. The Saints have only allowed one touchdown to a tight end with Fred Davis scoring in Week 13, and Brent Celek and Davis are the only two tight ends to reach double digits in Fantasy points against New Orleans. The Saints have already held Jason Witten, Dustin Keller, Kevin Boss and Winslow to five Fantasy points or less in each matchup. And Winslow is playing at less than 100 percent with a lingering knee injury.
49ers (vs. DET): Drew Stanton is expected to start for the Lions this week, which should mean good things for the 49ers defense. The 49ers have posted double digits in Fantasy points in five of their seven home games this year, including three in a row against Arizona, Jacksonville and Chicago. They've allowed a combined 18 points in those three games with seven interceptions, 10 sacks and nine forced fumbles. The Lions are depleted on offense with Stanton starting for the injured Matthew Stafford (shoulder) and the ineffective Daunte Culpepper, and Kevin Smith (knee) is also out for the year. This is a great week for Patrick Willis and Co. to dominate.
Other DSTs with good matchups: Cowboys (at WAS), Falcons (vs. BUF) and Browns (vs. OAK)
Broncos (at PHI): If the Broncos struggle at home against the Raiders then you can't expect them to slow down the Eagles offense. Oakland had 343 total yards and scored 20 points, and the Broncos have also struggled on the road. In three of Denver's past four road games at Indianapolis, Washington and Baltimore, the Broncos have combined for 15 Fantasy points. They did play well at Kansas City in Week 13, but the Chiefs were not playing well at that point. Philadelphia is playing at a high level and starting to get healthy on offense with the return of Brian Westbrook. The Eagles should make the Broncos DST look like a No. 2 Fantasy option this week.
Kris Brown (at MIA): Brown has faced the Dolphins each of the past three years, and he has nine field goals in nine attempts with a long of 57, including three 50-yard field goals in a 2007 matchup in Houston. The Dolphins lead the NFL with 28 field goals allowed, and Brown appears to have turned the corner from his midseason woes. He has five field goals in his past two games and has 20 Fantasy points over that span against Seattle and St. Louis. The Texans should be able to move the ball against the Dolphins, and Brown should get the chance for several scoring opportunities.
Josh Scobee (at NE): Scobee, like most of his teammates, has not done well on the road this season. He hasn't reached double digits in Fantasy points in any road games, and he's missed four field goals on the road this season. He only has one game in double digits in Fantasy points since Week 4. The Patriots are among the league leaders in field goals allowed at 18, and only three kickers have made multiple field goals against New England, with none coming at home. Weather could also be a factor for Scobee so don't plan on using him in this game.
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